Giant Men

This giant man was a familiar landmark in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.  He stood on top the muffler shop at 3940 West Grand Avenue.  According to Rick Kogan’s Sidewalks II book, he  was named Mr. Bendo, after the onetime owner of the business.  The plastic Bendo was supposed to closely resemble the flesh Bendo.

Sometime around 2010, a storm knocked off the top of the big Bendo.  The truncated base was left standing while the muffler shop proprietors decided what to do next.  I snapped the photo below around that time, recalling Shelley’s poem “Ozymandias” and the line “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert . . . ”

02--Ozymandias on Grand (2011)

The rest of Mr. Bendo has since been removed, and Chicago’s landscape is poorer for the loss.  However, I’m happy to report that the giant man on the northwest corner of 63rd and Pulaski still survives.  There used to be a tobacconist on the premises, and this statue was an oversize version of that old perennial, the Cigar Store Indian.  Today the cigar store is gone, so now he sports a pair of specs, promoting the eye clinic in the building.

03--63rd-Pulaski Giant Indian (2016)

These giant men always remind me of a miniature golf course.  Of course, they are big enough to decorate a regulation-size golf course.  Perhaps we should stick a giant Arnold Palmer along the right side of the eighth fairway at Waveland (Sydney Marovitz).  Besides putting a smile on a golfer’s face, a giant Arnie could also be a barrier to stop sliced tee shots from bouncing onto Lake Shore Drive.



10 Responses to “Giant Men”

  1. 1 Brian August 31, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Great post John

  2. 2 J.R. Schmidt September 1, 2016 at 8:20 pm


  3. 3 Garry September 3, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    The metal shop at Prosser Vocational HS also built a giant man, but I think he never left the school
    It was there in 1967, but I have no idea since then.

    • 4 J.R. Schmidt September 4, 2016 at 8:51 am

      Thanks for the info. That reminded me of Dunbar Vocational’s house. I taught at Dunbar in the late ‘seventies, and I recall that the students had constructed a tiny house that sat in an open-air courtyard within the school building. I wonder if that house is still there?

  4. 5 Alzo September 10, 2016 at 11:07 pm

    I grew up on the Southwest Side and the Indian was and is a beloved landmark… even by those miscreants who were always shooting arrows into him! This block was also home to the Midget Club.

  5. 6 William October 1, 2016 at 3:29 am

    I believe Nickey Chevrolet on Irving Park Rd had a giant man also. Paul Bunyan as I recall.

  6. 8 Sue October 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Your giant man has a twin at Guardian Auto Rebuilders, on Kedzie Avenue about 8900 South in Evergreen Park. Since the Blackhawks’ first recent championship season, he has carried a giant hockey stick.

    There is also a large Indian, at ground level, outside a cigarette/cigar store about 97th Street and Southwest Highway in Oak Lawn. This one wears a full head-dress, and shades his eyes as he looks off into the distance.

    I’m a Southsider by birth, and enjoy reading your posts about other parts of the City.

  7. 10 Sue T October 4, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Rest in Peace, Arnie.

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